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Cook Bernard Matthews

July 21, 2015

My daughter hates Meat Is Murder, the final track on The Smiths‘ LP of the same name. The grinding slaughterhouse machines battling for ear space with distressed cows has her shouting, “TURN IT OFF!!” every time it comes on. As all good dads should do, I sometimes turn it up twice as loud and make her listen all the way to the end, which she perhaps understandably hates me for.

smiths ors

The SmithsMeat is Murder

It’s the statement that Morrissey is perhaps most well-known for, and such was his influence at the time, Meat Is Murder turned many teenagers vegetarian. It’s a brilliant track, based around Johnny Marr’s cycling Wythenshawe waltz-time riff and fleshed out (pardon the pun) on record by some understated sparkling piano work from The Smiths’ musical alchemist.

That was a riff I’d been playing around with for a few days before,” recalls Marr. “Really nasty, in open D. I didn’t know the lyrics but I knew the song was gonna be called ‘Meat Is Murder’ so it just all came together in the take.

It certainly came together. Meat Is Murder favours mood over melody, and Morrissey’s lines, rhythmic, rhyming and alliterative  – ‘The meat in your mouth as you savour the flavour of murder‘ pull no punches.

meat is murder lyricsThe song was a staple of The Smiths’ live set for the next year or so, usually performed atop a tape of the abbatoir noises that so horrify my daughter. You’ll find a good version of it, recorded live by the BBC in Oxford on the b-side of the That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore 12″.

When the band played Irvine on their September ’85 tour of Scottish backwaters, Morrissey introduced it thus;

Just remember one thing, dear friends. Next time you bite into that big, fat sausage…..YOU’RE EATING SOMEBODY’S MOTHER!!

The SmithsMeat Is Murder (Irvine, 22.9.85)

I never went to this show, a fact that will haunt me until the day I die. Idiot that I was.

smiths irvine review

Playing it at the Victoria Hall in Hanley a few months earlier in March, a fan threw a string of sausages onto the stage just as the song began, smacking Morrissey on the mouth.

They hurled it so accurately that I actually bit into it in the action of singing the word ‘murder'”

Known for walking off stage at the slightest thing these days, I’m not so sure the old grump would be quite as frivolous about such an act nowadays:

no meat*Cook Bernard Matthews

This was inscribed on the run-out groove of The Smiths’ Sheila Take A Bow single. But you knew that already.

3 comments

  1. Great piece, yet again, Craig.

    I love reading your stuff.

    Any ideers for the autumn issue of The Word? It goes out at the start of September and will be including a largish bit on some recent tests.Have you been/are you going to any?

    Hope you’re well.

    Gerry

    >


  2. I thank my lucky stars that I did go to that Irvine gig all those years ago. More recently, Morrissey played Meat is Murder during his date at the Alhambra in Dunfermline and though it was not one of his best nights, this powerful classic was the highlight for me.
    I was also one of those who converted to a veggie diet back then but I’m not ashamed to say it did not last more than ten years.
    Enjoyed the article.


  3. Have you ever read the stuff at Ruth and Martin’s Album Club – well worth a read. Meat is Murder is the post from this week.

    http://ramalbumclub.com



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